‘HR needs to own this moment’

2021 brought the 'Great Resignation', but 2022 is the year of the 'Great Adjustment', according to Reward Gateway

‘HR needs to own this moment’

Julie Zadow has spent more than 20 years in marketing, including leadership roles at tech firms, advertising agencies and global advisories.

Working so closely with the HR industry, the New Jersey native at one point considered switching careers. However, her passion for marketing couldn’t be extinguished, and she joined London-founded Reward Gateway as CMO at the dawn of 2022. “I realized I loved communicating with the HR audience more than the thought of being an HR leader,” Zadow told HRD.

Founded in 2006, Reward Gateway provides an employee engagement platform that brings employee benefits, discounts, recognition and reward, wellbeing, communications and surveys into one unified hub. The company also has offices in Boston, Sydney and Melbourne, among other international destinations, and serves more than 2,000 clients, including American Express, Unilever, Samsung, IBM and McDonald’s.

Zadow, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism at Lafayette College and a master’s in international relations at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, was brought into Reward Gateway to help clients improve their company culture. After all, a culture built on collaboration, accountability and trust can be the differentiator in this highly competitive labor market.

“Julie’s extensive experience with high-growth organizations, market innovation and brand positioning – plus her passion for employee engagement and recognition – makes her a perfect fit for Reward Gateway at this exciting time of rapid growth,” said Doug Butler, CEO of Reward Gateway.

Although many companies have been struggling to recruit and retain talent, Zadow says that hasn’t been the case at her new employer.

“Reward Gateway understands what it means to build connection at the time of prospecting, pulling that through the entire recruiting experience in a really authentic way that then shows up in the onboarding experience and then layers into the employee working experience,” Zadow says. “You experience that engagement from the time you submit your resume to the time you receive your first paycheck.”

Read more: Social network offers employee insights that won’t come up in ‘discussions with HR’

Companies are doing whatever it takes to fill roles during the Great Resignation, in which the United States workforce is experiencing historic turnover. In December, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, slightly down from the record 4.5 million Americans who left their jobs in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The previous record was in September with 4.4 million employees leaving (3% of the nation’s workforce). Essential workers, in particular, have been leaving their positions for greener pastures, demanding more money, better working conditions and increased mobility.

In total, a record-shattering 47.4 million people quit in the U.S. in 2021.

As a result of the Great Resignation, the scale has tipped in favor of workers. They hold the power now, and with so many sharks circling the talent pool, companies are having to increase their compensation and benefits packages. “Employees are challenging pretty much all pre-conceived notions of why we work,” Zadow says. “HR needs to own this moment to improve employee engagement. Get in the arena with your employees and really listen to what people need to thrive in your culture.”

That’s why Reward Gateway is calling 2022 the “Great Adjustment,” signifying that HR must adjust activities to focus on doing good by their employees. By making employee happiness the top priority, companies can ensure that productivity, retention and a more engaged workforce will follow. It will take a mindset shift for business leaders who’ve been in the game for decades, but if we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptation is necessary to survive.

Of course, that ability to pivot is essential for success in marketing. “It’s not lost on me that one of the biggest challenges I face as a CMO is how to leverage technology to somehow infuse more humanity into marketing at scale,” Zadow says.

This year is sure to bring more challenges for those in leadership positions, but Zadow isn’t sweating. She knows that the people inside your organization is the single biggest competitive advantage you have, and her team at Reward Gateway makes her well-equipped for what’s ahead. She urges HR departments in all industries to take heed.

“HR leadership is at the epicenter of how organizations find their way in 2022,” Zadow says. “As a HR leader, you have to know how you’re communicating your organization’s values and you have to determine how you celebrate when someone is living your organization’s values.”

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